A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs... See full summary »
In Northern England in the early 1960s, Frank Machin is mean, tough and ambitious enough to become an immediate star in the rugby league team run by local employer Weaver. Machin lodges ... See full summary »
In eighteenth century England, "first cousins" Tom Jones and Master Blifil grew up together in privilege in the western countryside, but could not be more different in nature. Tom, the ... See full summary »
Jane, a young French woman, pregnant and unmarried, takes a room in a seedy London boarding house, which is inhabited by an assortment of misfits. She considers getting an abortion, but is ... See full summary »
A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's prize runner. Written by
Real borstal inmates were used as extras, primarily in the riot scene. Walter Lassally: "The mix was so good that you couldn't--unless you knew that this is an actor and this is an extra and this is a Borstal boy--you couldn't tell. The only time you could tell was at lunchtime, because they were absolutely ravenous. It looked like in the Borstal they were never properly fed because they were always looking. If you'd finished your dinner and you'd left something on your plate, they'd say, can I have that? ... They participated with great glee in the riot." See more »
When the boys are doing gardening work one character calls another "you mug" (meaning gullible idiot). This is incorrectly recorded in the subtitles as "you muppet" but the word "muppet" - meaning an idiot - was not in use when the film was made. See more »
Running was always a big thing in our family, specially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is that you've got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post's no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That's what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.
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I caught this film late at night on cable, and it is the first movie I've seen with Tom Courtenay in it, who is excellent (Either by coincidence or design, King Rat was on only a few nights later).
I'd never heard of this film before, but I was immediately transfixed by its look; something here is remarkable about the way black and white is used to further the overall feel and design of the film.
Having never been to the UK, I don't have a really good sense of how time passes there; to an American, England appears to age barely at all as seen through the cinema. But the themes here and the use of silence and the overall look of the film convey a society in the midst of change; as much as there is here that reminds one of the 1950s, there is an overwhelming 60s theme here about conformity and authority and society which is inescapable. I found myself cheering a bit at the end in the same way I cheered for Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke; here, as in that film, is the story of an individual who refused to be "broken."
I'd definitely rate this film as a key 1960s film, black and white, and yet thoroughly modern and not at all dated. A lot of care was put into this film from the performances to the camerawork, and while it is not something that would keep you on the edge of your seat, it is certainly a compelling story, compellingly told.
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